Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31, Bend: Trees and a ghost sock and flags in the sun

Lee's been swimming or working out just about every day unless he's on the mountain skiing. I got a temporary membership at the gym (you can just see it on the left). But today I thought I'd rather walk outside than tread on the treadmill inside. It was cold and windy and not very inviting, but I've been indoors so much on the computer that I wanted to get out and roam a bit. There's a lovely park (Juniper Park) surrounding the gym, and it seemed like a good start. I'm still not used to such dry weather. I like the climate in Astoria. Still, the trees are a nice place to start. The park is small and I knew I'd be on the street before long.

Yeah. A nice path through the woods.

I'd stopped to take a photo of a taco stand, but I didn't like it. This pic of the signs was only for geolocation reference, but I liked it better than the shot I took of the taco place. I like the tree.

I call this one the "ghost sock." It's actually a child's white sock with some dirt on it, trampled by walkers. Pretty cool looking.

Bear sculpture. There are a lot of traffic circles in Bend, and the city has done a good job of putting reasonably interesting sculptures and nice landscaping in them. This one with the bronze-looking bear is near the gym. I've gone through the forest and up the block back toward the entrance. I took pictures of the bear from every corner outside the traffic circle, but this was his best angle, or at least the picture that came out best. Unfortunately it has wires behind it. Too bad. I know they can be photoshopped out easily, but at this point I'm still recording places as much as anything, so the wires stay.

I like the upturned boughs here. I think it's a spruce tree, but I don't know if it's a Colorado blue or some other kind. I'm not sure what's up with the branches.

Some brave souls came out to play tennis in their shorts. That's Pilot Butte in the background. If Lee had been planning to stay at the gym longer, I would have climbed it today. I was in the right frame of mind.

Here's the walk leading back up to the gym. It's a horrible day for this type of photo. The sky's all gray and the lighting is bad. The white tent covers one of the two swimming pools.

We went back to the house for a bit, then out for a drink and appetizers for dinner. Now the sky had changed to leaden dark, but the part of the sky that was clear let through the most gorgeous evening light. I'd wanted to stop on the bridge and take a photo over the river and the Old Mill District, but Lee was deep in a phone conversation and I didn't interrupt. We should have gone back, but we were both hungry and cold, and we didn't. Light changes so fast, too. By the time we'd turned around, you never know. It's one of those images that you see just as you're passing - or you think about it after you've gone too far. Most are forgotten almost instantly as the next images come along, but I remember this one. I'll remember the spot and the lighting, and try to go back on a similar day. But it took us only a few minutes to get to our destination and stop, and the same lighting and the dark sky were still available when we got out at the old mill. The silver stacks and the flying flag were dramatic against the evening storm.

Anthony's fish restaurant and bar. And dinner.

This sculpture is just outside of Anthony's. I don't love it, but I love the light and the colors. I think it's nice to have civic sculpture, though, I just have a thing about old wagon wheels. I like them in situ, but not as intentional decoration. It's probably because I saw too many at some time in my life.

The sunlight on the bridge's flags was stunning. Click to enlarge the picture and see what I mean. This view is another benefit of eating at Anthony's. The margarita was good and the appetizers were excellent. It was a nice night out, for sure.

And then on the way home. . . . Bend has interesting and dramatic cloud shapes of a type we don't get on the coast. Really nice.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25, Bend, Oregon: Winter's fading, trees are glowing

It's still cold enough that I'm wearing a down-stuffed jacket outside most of the time, but green things are coming up through the brown, and branches are turning color from the inside out. The best pix are near the end.

This bush and the grasses in the next few photos are just outside of Nancy P's bakery/cafe, where I photographed snow and frozen plants not that long ago. Inside there is quiche. There are lots of other goodies, too, but I usually get quiche and ice water for some reason.

Grass turning green from the roots up.

I love these colors. I don't know what the plant is actually called.

Beautiful long grasses.

We did that thing again where we went out for drinks and appetizers. We hadn't tried The Blacksmith yet, and thought this would be a good time. They didn't have Margaritas, so I got something tasty with rum in it. I like this photo of Lee.

Yumm. I forgot what they called this, but it was sooooo good. I felt bad because Lee didn't like his appetizer as much as I liked mine. We like trying things. I gave him some of this. I think it's a very tricked-out West Coast Yuppie Tex-Mex sushi. Whatever. It was great, not too hot, and the crispy things were so edible I ate them.

Bend has better cloud formations than Astoria about 9 times out of 10. It's a saving grace, because I like Astoria's climate much better.

Lee's having some remodeling done on the house.

As we got back from happy hour, the trees down the street were just catching the final glow of sun. They're getting red in their branches anyway due to the season, but set against the leaden sky, I found the colors remarkable and flamelike. What a nice sight to end the day!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24: Very special tapir pictures

Some very special tapir pictures showed up in my e-mail box today from just about 40 years ago. I hardly have words to describe how it feels to see them - I actually got teary; I loved that tapir. I've posted them with descriptions on my TPF Tapir blog.

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23: Late Spring, early dinner in Bend

This unfortunate photo is one of my "recording" pictures, just to show what was going on. It had been raining, but was cold enough overnight to build up snow on the hills outside of town. It's been a gray, cold day with funky light for photos.

As usual, I spent most of the day on the computer, blogging, working on the web site. The upside is, I get to play with photos of one kind or another for most of my work these days. You can see again, the weather was kind of blah outside. I'm not sure what the plan is for the flags on the bridge, but it's always festive. Some days there are a lot of different colors. Maybe the green is left over from St. Patrick's Day. You can't see it, but there's a path along the river where people are out jogging and walking - some even on a day like this. There's a fire in the brazier, but it's cold for outdoor sitting. There are tall picture windows around the view sides of the restaurant. We were here once on a nice day and the mountain view was nice.

I liked the fish on the carpet. Lee and I have started going to Happy Hour. Not that we're much into drinking, but we like one now and then. Maybe cheap(er) appetizers have been going on at happy hours for years, but since I've had entire years when I didn't drink anything, the whole concept passed me by. Now we're finding that we can get a drink (or not) and try a few different and very tasty snacks and pretty much call it dinner. We've tried to do this in Astoria, but the one place we've tried has mostly cheap, horrible, greasy food. Here in Bend, the restaurants and pubs are presenting arrays of better-cooked and interesting foods on the Happy Hour menu. I hope the trend catches on in Astoria, too. This place is a seafood restaurant and the appetizers were really good. They also blended the Margarita. I'm finding that some places don't.

The metal fish hanging from the ceiling was warm and friendly.

We had coconut shrimp on sticks, lots of steamer clams in a huge bowl, and I had some other kind of seafood thing that I really liked. (I'm writing this a few days later; I'd get it again if I could remember what it was). Then when we really didn't need it, we each had a small cup of clam chowder. But it was good. Yumm.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20: Sunset from the Pier 11 Restaurant

It was a nice time of the evening to have dinner on the water, so we (Lee and I) went to the still-newish restaurant on Pier 11 - The Pier 11 Steak and Seafood Restaurant. Actually, our first choice for dinner had been the Urban Cafe tonight, but there was a wait and we were hungry. As we arrived on Pier11, this coot had also found some dinner. The image was interesting and I took its photo from the pier railing just outside the restaurant.

The rest of these photos were taken as we ordered and ate. The flat area to the left is the Washington end of the Astoria-Megler bridge.

I love the colors of this ship, the Senorita, registered in Grimstad. I couldn't find the Senorita online (and it has no tilde over the "n" on the ship), but Grimstad is a busy harbor town in Norway, so it could be the right point of registration. It's not a name I see often on the ships that go up and down the Columbia. This ship was just glowing in the sunset. It was gorgeous. My camera and I don't handle lighting like this very well, but I did try to get it. It may help to click on the photo and enlarge it.

Here three ships rest for the night on the wide, calm, Columbia River in Astoria just outside our window at the restaurant. Ducks swam, ate, dove, and caroused on the water below our window. Once we saw a sea lion break the surface of the water on its way up or down river.

As early evening faded to twilight, we watched the ships' lights come on, reflecting in the delicate ripples of the water. It was a calm night, both for the colors and for the surface of the water.

After a tasty chicken in marsala sauce and other goodies, we got up to leave the peaceful setting. You can see how close we are to the window, and how close the window is to the water. The entire restaurant is on pilings over the river.

Night settles in on the Columbia River. It's beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19: The Global Sentinel passes Astoria

We had a notable visitor on the river today, the Global Sentinel, a trans-oceanic layer of fiber-opitic cable.

The ship was moving upriver at quite a clip, and actually making quite a lot of noise for a ship of that size. I didn't get a good photo, but I wanted to get something before she disappeared behind the sheds to the east of our place.

Lately I've taken an interest in the way each type of ship arranges the opening and ladder where the pilots enter and leave. This is almost like a regular doorway with a ladder in it.

It was just plain cold and wet and dreary on the water today. This bufflehead female floats on still water with raindrops pattering down. The hard rain seems to have stopped for awhile, but it drizzled much of the day. I was indoors working on the computer as usual.

Nice patterns and reflections in the still water of the Columbia.

Here's the radio tower, reflected.

By early evening, there was a steamy-looking fog over the river. It wasn't actually steamy because there was no heat. It's just the way the clouds were looking later in the day. It's kind of different from the usual - whatever that is - but the fog and clouds don't usually take this formation on the water. I don't mind days like this, but it IS why we get so excited when the sun comes out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14: A new duck

I almost titled this post "Another rainy day in Astoria," and then I began to wonder how many posts I already have by that name and how many I'll have in few years if I keep that up. Probably lots! After seveal days of beautiful weather, that is what we had today, another rainy one. It started last night. Above, you can see the big log that's been stuck under the neighboring building the past few days. The mass on the left side is a big growth of root on one side of the tree, but I couldn't get a good photo of it.

This is just rain patterns on the river with sticks floating around in it. We get a lot of big broken grass stalks this time of year, too.

Someday I'm going to get an SLR with a nice long lens. I wonder if this is a male northern pintail duck (Anas acuta), as they winter in this part of Oregon, but it doesn't have the white throat. Would that make it a youngster, or could it be a hybrid duck? I was just looking at some duck hybrids online and it does seem to confuse the issue. I haven't taken a picture of a duck like this one before, and I wanted to see what it was. I haven't particularly noticed them before. We do have a lot of bufflehead ducks and some mallards on the water now.

This seagull was strutting around on the end of the catwalk for awhile in the downpour.

I especially liked the color contrast between the protective flange at the base of the tower and the chipping red paint higher up.
I slept until about noon. I knew I was tired, but didn't realize I was that tired. And I've been working online the rest of the day wtih blogs and albums, and spending some time on Facebook. We had more orders in the gift shop today than we had last Saturday and early Sunday. I wonder if it's all this online activity or if people are feeling better about economic news.